Philippine VP Sara Duterte resigns from Marcos cabinet

Cracks in the alliance between the Duterte and Marcos political clans have been widening since January.
Jason Gutierrez
Philippine VP Sara Duterte resigns from Marcos cabinet Vice President Sara Duterte (2nd from left) smiles shortly after her inauguration in southern Davao City, June 19, 2022. Her father, ex-President Rodrigo Duterte, is positioned in the center and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr stands 3rd from right.
Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews

Vice President Sara Duterte resigned from the cabinet of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday, leaving her post as education minister in a surprise move that signifies a complete collapse of an alliance between the country’s two leading political families.

Cracks in the alliance have been widening since January, with Sara’s father – former President Rodrigo Duterte – and Marcos taking swipes at each other in the local press. 

The elder Duterte, who drew international condemnation for his war on narcotics, has accused Marcos of being a drug user – a claim the president has flatly denied. Marcos, meanwhile, has claimed that Duterte was a long time user of the opioid fentanyl. 

Cheloy Garafil, a spokeswoman for the president, confirmed Dutetre’s resignation on Wednesday afternoon.

Along with the education post, Duterte also quit as the head of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

The position is high-profile and allowed the vice president to broadcast her criticisms of the communist rebels, who have been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies. Marcos, on the other hand, has reopened preliminary peace talks with the insurgents, which were ended by his predecessor in 2017.

In a statement, Duterte said she had given one month’s notice to ensure “proper and orderly transition” for her successor.

“My resignation is not borne out of weakness, but was brought along by my concern for teachers and Filipino youth,” she said. “I may no longer be the secretary of education, but I will continue to closely monitor and stand up for the sake of the teachers and students if needed.”

Duterte remains vice president despite resigning from her cabinet posts. In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately - a mechanism that serves as a check and balance for the country's top post.

But both Duterte and Marcos had agreed on the alliance in a so-called "Unity Team" to beat Leni Robredo, the country's vice president in ex-leader Duterte's term who critically monitored his drug war.

Last year, opposition lawmaker France Castro called for an investigation into alleged anomalies in the allocation of 650 million pesos (U.S. $11.4 million) to the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, both of which were overseen by Duterte. 

Her father, Rodrigo, subsequently made a death threat against the congresswoman, according to a criminal complaint that was later dismissed by the ombudsman. 

Opposition party Akbayan welcomed Duterte’s decision to resign, saying it was “long overdue.” 

“Her tenure at DepEd has been marred by massive controversies, particularly the murky waters of her multi-million confidential funds that have raised more eyebrows than standards,” Akbayan said in a statement.

Analysts say hostilities between the two political dynasties began as the elder Duterte grew wary that Marcos would hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is investigating his bloody anti-drugs campaign. Marcos has publicly said he would not allow ICC investigators into the country. 

The two leaders are also at odds over the direction of Philippine relations with China, with Marcos taking a much firmer stance than his predecessor against Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea.

The Marcos and Duterte clans formed an alliance in the 2022 presidential election. 

Lawyer Harry Roque, a spokesman for the former president, on Wednesday said the alliance had been “formally dissolved” and Sara was now the leader of the opposition.

“The line has been drawn. The Philippines finally has a real leader,” he said in a statement.

Jeoffrey Maitem contributed reporting from Davao City, southern Philippines


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.